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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The International Brotherhood of Magicians! » » Pistols at dawn Mr Lelekis!! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

captainsmiffy
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I have just read a review of my work, Up The Ante, by Mr Paul Lelekis for the Linking Ring. The review was unsolicited, indeed it was through the offices of this Café that I learnt from friends that a review had even taken place. In the first instance I believe this to be discourteous; secondly I have no chance to counter with any 'issues' that the reviewer has come up with. That said, I encourage reviewers to 'tell it like it is' - I do not want to influence the outcome. I believe that Up The Ante will stand on its own two little feet as being a beautiful little routine..That said, in this case I do not actually believe that Mr Lelekis has even thoroughly read the routine before going on to give it its one and only lack-lustre rating amongst dozens of otherwise sparkling reviews here on the Café.

Here are his august words of wisdom in case you have not seen them:-

This pamphlet offers a multi-phase
effect in the gambling genre. While it has
a betting theme, it is presented more as a
demonstration so as to be non-confrontational.
While I am a big fan of the principle
involved, I feel that the presentation is
a tad trite. It also appears, because of the
“angle” Mr. Smith exploits and his lack of
explanation, as if he is not as well versed
with this principle as he should be.
However, the overall effect will probably
please many lay people who are into
Texas Hold ‘Em. The in-the-spectator’shands
aspect also brings another dimension
to this effect.
Neutral. Paul A. Lelekis

So, a 'neutral' rating. Let us look, however, a little deeper.

Quote "it is presented more as a demonstration so as to be non-confrontational"

Had he, in fact, read my notes (that IS a pre-requisite still for a factual review isn't it?!!) then he would have seen these words:-

"My routine presents the audience with a direct challenge and is adversarial in nature. This may not suit your style or temperament; it works well for me but I do make it abundantly clear right from the outset that we are playing and gambling merely for effect."

Mr Lelekis describes the effect as "a tad trite"; 'trite, BTW, means 'lacking power to evoke interest'. Literally hundreds of personal performances have shown me that it is quite the opposite. I doubt though that Mr Lelekis has actually road-tested this routine....furthermore, as people are discovering, the presentation is so easy to alter to suit their individual tastes/needs

We are told that 'the overall effect will probably please many lay people who are into Texas Hold ‘Em'. Que? It has absolutely nothing to do with Texas hold-em. It will also probably appeal to people who like Morgan sports cars (me!!) as well and to people who like Marks and Spencers trousers and.....to people who like card magic!!

I am also accused of a lack of explanation; more later but, to date, am aware of only one person who had trouble running the routine after all of its sales - and he was able to contact me for as much FREE help as was required to sort him out. That stands true to all. I believe that I am known for being easy to reach and for helping out where required. I have actually produced a work whereby the 'workings' occur simulataneously on 3 different levels - not many, if any, effects of this genre do this and I have had an almost 100% success rate as judged by only having to coach one person through the routine (I believe that 3500 miles between me and most of my trade adds to the tuition difficulties - but have not been called on to teach so the notes/explanation have to be pretty well cock-on in my book!)

Now I have repeated Mr Lelekis's review here and I wish to balance what he has said with words from just one thread here on this Café very recently in the e-books section(there are many more threads but these should suffice to give a flavour)

"...really excellent in its own right...many of you would love (it).."

"..It is truly a hands-off effect but plays very strong"

"..Martyn has a keen eye for detail. His instructions are clearand he makes certain you understand what is going on at each step of the process"

"..The real beauty of the routine is that you can present it in so many ways..Martyn also gives you tips on how to shorten the effect if you so desire"

"...Strong, well structured....a 'pathway effect'.."

"..It has a beautiful impossibility that approaches OOTW." (Not MY words!)

"...I use the word 'routine' with intent; this is more than an effect or a trick...this is a routine that soars...Up The Ante is a stunner and will challenge (and doubtless improve over time) your story-telling and audience management skills.."

"..One of the best hands-off effects I have come across. Every time I perform Up The Ante I have always learnt something.."

..and on the Linking Rings review:-

"...This is NOT a review but an IMPRESSION without rationale. That's it."

"...HAS to be the worst review I have ever read....only conjecture.."

and, finally:-

"...I do think that a reviewer for a MAJOR journal has a responsibility to be more substantive."

Somebody is right and somebody is wrong. I am not averse to a BAD review; part and parcel of life when you create. I do, however, get annoyed when the reviewer has neither done his homework nor read the material effectively. That, in a nutshell, is my gripe. Years of work may be irrevocably damaged by the careless, wanton words of a reviewer. The pen is mightier than the sword.....

I hope that this goes some way into redressing the damage caused by a rather one-sided review. At the end of the day it is those who buy the effect that have the final say; I justhope that Mr Lelekis hasn't stopped potential purchasers from doing so.

Sincerely

Martyn Smith
Have you tried 'Up The Ante' yet?? The ultimate gambling demo....a self-working wonder! See the reviews here on the cafe.
Dredz
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Welcome to life. I have noticed the same trend in the magazine. Pity.
Thetruthteller
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Gosh, this seems like a fairly even handed review to me. He even said that the trick would "probably please many lay people". I think a neutral review is almost as good as a positive and far better than a negative one.
If you are this upset about a fairly even handed review as this one is I would really hate to see how you would react to a truly negative one.
captainsmiffy
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You appear to have completely missed the point of my post! A BAD review I can ignore/deal with etc. A mis-informed review, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether. Not sure that you have really read and understood my post (perhaps in much the same way as the reviewer when he 'read' my work!)
Have you tried 'Up The Ante' yet?? The ultimate gambling demo....a self-working wonder! See the reviews here on the cafe.
ian22202
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I blog and write the odd review for my day job. I agree that it is important that a reviewer should always do thier due dilligence when approaching a review. However, that doesn't mean that a reviewer has to be positive. Those are two seperate issues indeed.

In fact, I think most people find cleverly worded, hostile and nasty reviews more entertaining. Just think about the last nasty movie review that you remember, chances are it was a negative review.

Having noted that, it would appear that you might have a case that the review in question might not be a good one. However, my experience is that it _never_ looks good for a author, inventor, performer, etc. to comment on a negative review. If a comment _must_ be made, a respected friend should make the comment.
captainsmiffy
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Ian, Hi and thanks for your input. You speak a lot of truth. I would like to point out, though, that it isn't a bad review that worried me - am pretty confident, now, that my little invention will stand, head high, on its own two feet and could weather a bad write-up - it was the fact that Mr Lelekis clearly had not read the material or had 'skimmed-it' and got the wrong end of the stick, so to speak! Had it been merely a bad review then we wouldn't be having this debate now. I know that, by and large, Up The Ante hits a raw nerve and gets people excited so it wouldn't receive too much flak from an isolated bad review, in my opinion - there is enough good being said elsewhere about it that I wouldn't overly worry. I just object to it being badly mis-represented in an unfair fashion. If you know the routine then you will appreciate the time and effort that has gone into its creation.

A reviewer has responsibilities to both the reader AND to the creator; I try to play with a straight bat and I expect it of others, too.
Have you tried 'Up The Ante' yet?? The ultimate gambling demo....a self-working wonder! See the reviews here on the cafe.
bsears
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Addressing the issue of reviewing material that was not specifically requested to be reviewed by its creator, it is my opinion that a reviewer/publisher has an obligation, or at least an interest in, reviewing any item that is being sold in the marketplace that may have have a substantial cost or benefit to readers.

Such material should include items that are big sellers, items that are extraordinary or garbage, and items that are hyped or falsely advertised. I'm not saying that this product fits in any of these categories, btw.
captainsmiffy
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....agreed...but also an obligation/responsibility to actually READ it! Not write conjecture and falsehood!
Have you tried 'Up The Ante' yet?? The ultimate gambling demo....a self-working wonder! See the reviews here on the cafe.
magicmarie
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Quote:
On 2010-06-16 16:15, Thetruthteller wrote:
Gosh, this seems like a fairly even handed review to me. He even said that the trick would "probably please many lay people". I think a neutral review is almost as good as a positive and far better than a negative one.
If you are this upset about a fairly even handed review as this one is I would really hate to see how you would react to a truly negative one.


He obviously missed the one he got in MUM earlier this year
captainsmiffy
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Thanks for the info...I did miss that one. Sounds ominous! Does anyone have a copy by any chance?
Have you tried 'Up The Ante' yet?? The ultimate gambling demo....a self-working wonder! See the reviews here on the cafe.
ian22202
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Captainsmiffy, I think I got your point from your origional comment.

Having been on both sides of the review business I think I understand the sensitivities all around. As a result, I _do_ think I understand your point of view and understand your fruistration.

I'll have to think about you comment that a reviewer has an obligation to the creator. I've always adopted the attitude that a reviewed shouldn't assume an obligation to the creator in order to maintain an independant and objective point of view.

You have given me something to think about.
Vlad_77
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I really need to chime in here: I am one of many performers who DO this routine regularly. I am VERY picky about what I decide goes into my repertoire - these audiences pay my bills.

But, lest that not be enough, while not a reviewer, I have been a demonstrator in two magic shops and a partner in a third; real brick and mortar shops. In ALL cases, we were instructed to learn routines THOROUGHLY and actually perform them. We were taught to steer clear of reviews as reviews would/could color OUR perceptions of the effect. Besides, being a demonstrator has its perks: we get to see the magic before those on the consumer side of the counter do. So, we have no NEED for reviews in that sense. While being a demonstrator, I was also a performer. In fact, to BE a demonstrator in these shops - all VERY successful shops by the way - it was required that the demonstrators have significant PERFORMING experience. We would field test new routines outside of the shop. No, we weren't required to put these routines into our working repertoires, but we WERE strongly encouraged to at least perform a given effect a numbers of times to gauge its effectiveness. To be fair to the creator, we understood the basic reality that each performer has a different approach, so, the assessment of just ONE demonstrator was not enough. We would have weekly meetings and discuss each new effect and reach a consensus.

I realize that reviewers do have deadlines. But, I also believe that a reviewer MUST know the product thoroughly or else the review is invalid. Lelekis uses trigger words such as "probably." This word infers conjecture. As Martyn has noted, this effect has nothing to do with Texas Hold 'Em. In fact, I have done this effect for people who wouldn't know Texas Hold 'Em from Pinochle. The result: gasps of utter astonishment, and that beautiful "no way" moment as each step of the denouement occurs.

Lelekis IS wrong when he wrote that the routine is non-confrontational. True, Martyn does NOT belittle the audience, but, a wager BY ITS NATURE IS confrontational. Phil Cass has spoken of this at length in his work on the Three Shell Game.

As a performer - a trained actor, musician, magician, and mentalist - I see nothing "trite" about the effect. Rather, it is a crescendo of impossibility. Does it require good audience management? You bet it does. Magic IS a performing art. When I perform this effect the audience goes wild. It is not as I have stated in my "review" an effect that I would do for inebriated punters at the pub. It requires involvement and a bit of an attention span.

The effect deals with one of the most primal of human desires and that is the impossibility of winning a wager when the odds are stacked heavily against you. Wagering has undoubtedly been with us since there has been a mode of exchange and means to material gain. I recall a wonderful line in The Natural when the gangster/gambler "Gus" tells Roy Hobbes: "you can bet on anything, sport." The words "I bet you" are part of our lexicon. The effect is not "trite"; the effect mirrors a large part of human desire. I hasten to add that I realize we are talking about a magic effect here and not immortality or world peace or BP idiocy. That said, Up the Ante has an intrinsic power that resonates with MANY people. "Trite" is the old Circus Card Trick, but, even THAT chestnut is fun to do for younger people.

Martyn understands the method VERY well. Lelekis fails to mention that Martyn's teaching of method is quite thorough. Ironically he DOES mention that the in the spectator's hands brings the effect to a new dimension. The verbiage is problematic if Lelekis still holds that the effect is "trite." So, which is it Mr. Lelekis?

I am the person who stated that this effect "has a beautiful impossibility that approaches OOTW." I do not make that statement lightly. The reactions I receive from Up the Ante are at least as strong as those I get from OOTW; the very same effect rated by readers of Hugard's Magic Monthly - certainly no rag - as one of the greatest card effects of the 20th century.

Martyn has been quite clear that it is not the VERDICT he has a problem with. Let's face it, not everybody will love a given effect. Perhaps this is a heresy, but, I LOATHE Sam the Bellhop because to me, it is not "magical." It is a dazzling display of skill, it's fun, but for me, it lacks that PUNCH. Martyn is RIGHT however in asking for a fair review. He did not get one. In fact, the review as written would not pass a freshman English Composition exercise. No personal attack on Paul Lelekis, but, the man does NOT possess the skills of Michael Close or Jamy Ian Swiss when it comes to reviewing. Lelekis is writing for a MAJOR journal in our art. While its number of subscribers may be smaller than either Magic or Genii, it is still read by a large number of magicians.

I have seen reviews that I completely disagree with. One example was Eric Mead's negative review of Mike Powers' book Power Plays. BUT, at least Mead offered sound reasons for his dislike of the book. (N.B. Mead's review was the only negative review of the Powers book) I was not convinced by Eric's review, but, I respect the fact that he at least READ the book. I disagree with the Lelekis review because I PERFORM this effect and the reactions are intense.

I prefer reading user reviews here rather than the reviews in the journals precisely because the review here are written by people in the trenches. If I read a thread in which twelve of eighteen people are saying an effect is a dog with fleas, I am far more inclined to take their collective word than the word of one reviewer who has probably had to review six or seven items per month in time to put the magazine to bed.

I am not a member of the Society of American Magicians, so I am unaware of that review and thus cannot comment on it. As a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians however, I am dismayed at a clearly ill-informed review. Again I direct you to the linguistic structure and verbiage of Lelekis' review. Conditional statements such as "probably" are not helpful and in fact have the effect of rendering said review worthless.

I posted an EXTREMELY negative review of an effect called "The Player's Stack." I read the thing thoroughly, and there was actually no point in trying it. I cannot say WHY without exposing the method, but, suffice to say, the release of it is nearly criminal considering one finds these sorts of effects strewn about the literature. The hyperbole for this effect would make one think this was as revolutionary as Aronson or Tamariz. I also didn't perform it because its methodology brought nothing new. In fact, most of us have been DOING Player's Stack in a different form for AGES.

Finally, the proof is in the pudding. A LOT of PERFORMERS are doing Up the Ante with great success. And NONE of us are in the realm of "probably."

Ahimsa,
Vlad
Payne
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I too find myself being compelled to "Throw my hat into the ring" and defend Mr. Lelekis. I found his review reasonable and fair. I too agree that the routine is non-confrontational as the wagers are made in an abstract "what if" style. If actual bets were made then I would agree that it was confrontational. But as the routine is described in the pamphlet it is scarcely as confrontational as a three shell game or a die box routine.
I too found the routine lacking and incongruous. The routine is advertised as being a demonstration of the magician's gambling skills. However since the magician never touches the cards how ids he in ant way showing that he possesses the dexterity of a card shark?
As has been stated not everyone will like every routine or trick. Reviewers are only human with their own likes and dislikes. What one person might find wanting another will find pure gold in. I am sure Mr. Lelekis was more than fair in his estimation and evaluation of this trick.
When I tried it out at my Magic club they only gave it a 2 if I remember right and no one was overly impressed with it at all.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
captainsmiffy
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...perhaps, then, one might consider working on ones presentation and raise it from a 2?! My audiences, which do sometimes include magicians, would rate the effect somewhat higher than a 2!! Actually, to be fair, you didn't state whether 2 was the good end or the bad end of the scale, nor how big the scale is - and I am only jesting with you!

On the other hand, being fair to me, whereas you state that "One person might find wanting, another will find pure gold in", it is also true to state that one persons performance can either make or break a routine depending on the quality of the presentation. The whole business of reviewing is just so subjective and my creation lives or dies on the whims, and the skills, of those who care to write about it. On the whole, I am extremely happy with how UTA has been portrayed in the majority of places....
Have you tried 'Up The Ante' yet?? The ultimate gambling demo....a self-working wonder! See the reviews here on the cafe.
Vlad_77
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As far as impressing a magic club, does it REALLY matter? This routine works BEAUTIFULLY for those who cough up the dosh - REAL audiences.

A magic club is NOT going to be impressed with anything they perceive as "easy." I am a performer, and, I have also worked the other side of magic as a demonstrator in two magic shops and a partner in a third. Many magicians tend to judge an effect based upon whether it fools THEM. As such, many miss out on GREAT hard hitting effects.

I can well imagine demonstrating this for a magic club. The majority simply CANNOT stop thinking like magicians, or, at least, change perspective and ask themselves, "okay, while I might know the method, how will it play for my audiences?"

You can take ANY effect, ANY, and just "do it." If you just "do it" as scripted, adopting patter that is NOT you, NO ONE, magician OR non-magician is going to be impressed. Magic can approach the miraculous, or, depending upon the performer, it can be a mere puzzle.

Look at OOTW. The plot is REALLY simple and the method is dead easy. The spectator is separating the colors by dealing. This effect is rated as one the GREATEST card effects of all time by some the greatest MAGICIANS of all time, but, if OOTW is presented as is, having a spectator deal cards and at the end the colors are separated, the effect is NOT an effect. It is a mere curiosity AT BEST.

Thank HEAVEN actors and musicians DON'T have "clubs", we would never get anything done. Smile

Ahimsa,
Vlad
Payne
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We will just have to agree to disagree then.

If this trick works for you then more power to you. I, and everyone I've shown it to have given it middle to low marks.

But then over the years I've managed to set the bar pretty high so when people see me perform they are expecting effects of a little higher caliber than normal.
Especially when it comes to card tricks. they are more used to seeing me perform effects like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbWzDFPZbYI and this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWImtgLU28s&feature=related then they are run of the mill tricks like this one.

Your average performer I'm sure could get some use out of it. I, and my audiences just expect a little more out of a trick Smile

No doubt I would have gotten a much better reaction had I chosen to go with a presentation more like Lennart Green's (which oddly predates "Up the Ante" by several years) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-pGKQB_Qeg instead of the one that was included in the manuscript"
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Vlad_77
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Average performer?????

Respectfully Payne, I find your insinuation rather insulting, and not only to me, but to MANY others who are doing this effect and getting astounding reactions to it.

As to presentation, only the average performer locks him/herself into the presentation given.

I also respectfully submit an old show business adage that states: "Never believe your own press."

I DO think your work is rather excellent. But, your verbiage of average performer makes certain assumptions about yourself and others here.

Ahimsa,
Vlad

PS: Just a pointer from an Italian. It is pronounced Da VinCHI, not Da VinSI
Payne
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Quote:
On 2010-08-02 13:13, Vlad_77 wrote:
Average performer?????

Respectfully Payne, I find your insinuation rather insulting, and not only to me, but to MANY others who are doing this effect and getting astounding reactions to it.

As to presentation, only the average performer locks him/herself into the presentation given.

I also respectfully submit an old show business adage that states: "Never believe your own press."

I DO think your work is rather excellent. But, your verbiage of average performer makes certain assumptions about yourself and others here.

Ahimsa,
Vlad

PS: Just a pointer from an Italian. It is pronounced Da VinCHI, not Da VinSI


Did we miss the little smiley at the end of the "Average Performer" sentence? As far as I understand it in today's web vernacular that denotes it as a joke so it shouldn't be taken too seriously.

I too never lock myself into the presentation given. However a reviewer as a rule generally does. One must limit ones review to the matter at hand, the presentation included with the effect. As I said, I liked Lennert Green's presentation of this effect. I'm sure there are many other magicians who too have come up with unique and intrigue presentations for this mathematical principal as well. I just found the one supplied with the effect lacking and full of logical inconsistencies.

Also, I'm not Italian so I m not tied to their inaccurate and foreign pronunciations Smile
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Michael Taggert
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I will Jump in at this point as a reviewer for the linking ring. we are given the material and are to perform the routines as written based on the materials we are given. This is due to the fact that peoples buying decisions may be based on our reviews. we take this very seriously. a Neutural review is not bad. it merely means that the materials as presented had some faults that would cause the reviewer hestiation in presenting or purchasing the routines. we are requested to review thousands of items a year. Many people put a lot of hard work into their published work so we try very hard to give the best reviews we can. we see a lot very poor materials that don't even make it to the reviews. whle someone may think their roputine is the bees knees Smile it may actually be a turkey. a good method and routines that gets a less than favorable routine may find that the fault is in the materials not the actual routine.
Im reviewing one now that well, shall we say...... Gobble gobble
Believe you then that I do strange things
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